When I was growing up, my dad worked in sales. Trade shows were a big part of his job; today, he jokes about how he doesn’t feel well-traveled, yet he knows the interiors of global convention centers by heart. Every time he’d come home from a show, he’d give me a tote bag filled with the company swag he’d collected – stress balls, paperweights, magnets. Or, as he delightedly called it, “useless stuff.”
This joke went on for years, and child-sized me thought it was hilarious. The memories take on a new perspective now that trade shows are centric to many of our clients’ businesses. Every company with a presence at an industry event pours hours of work and thousands of dollars into preparation and marketing. However, if those teams lose sight of their big-picture event goals, they can miss chances for influential meetings and measure less ROI in the end.
Smart trade show prep should focus on connecting with customers, not passing out branded snow globes. This might include scheduling meetings with users and influencers, creating a digital press kit, applying for awards and speaking opportunities or refreshing yourself about the past year’s top-performing company blogs. Our trade show checklist covers these bases, as well as a planning timeline, social media etiquette, content marketing preparation and media prep suggestions, plus a few other lessons we’ve learned firsthand.
Download the checklist to help your team answer these questions and make the most of your next event:
How long is the ideal in-person meeting?
Is my slide deck a bad idea?
What should we do if a reporter comes to our booth when our spokesperson isn’t around?
What kind of conversations will I have at the show?
How early should I start planning, and how?
My dad’s trade-show circuit brought him to Boston while I was in college there. When I visited him on the show floor, we laughed at the ways trade shows have changed, yet stayed the same over the years. Maybe there will always be swag, but, it now takes something a lot more valuable than tchotchkes to earn attention. If you don’t deliver the right messaging, in the right formats to the right people, the show won’t be as valuable, no matter how many knick-knacks you order beforehand.
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